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Broadest School Vouchers in the Nation Upheld by Court

(Updated) Even though the Indiana Supreme Court upheld a voucher program, the Louisiana Supreme Court has called its state's program unconstitutional.

Update (May 9): In a 6-1 ruling, the Louisiana state Supreme Court has ruled that a school voucher program that uses public funds to send low-income students to private schools violates the state constitution. The constitution prohibits programs that do not distribute funds to public and private schools equally.

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The Indiana Supreme Court has unanimously ruled that the state's school voucher program–the most expansive program of its kind in America–is constitutional despite complaints that much of the money involved goes to religious schools.

According to chief justice Brent Dickson, the voucher program is constitutional because the state funds "do not directly benefit religious schools but rather directly benefit lower-income families with school children."

The voucher program provides public assistance for low- and middle-income families to send their children to private institutions, including both religious and non-religious schools. However, the Indiana State Teachers Association has "suggested the program is a backhanded method of funding religious activity," because nearly all of the funds have been directed toward religious schools.

But the court's ruling to uphold the program's constitutionality was unanimous.

"{The Court] said it did not matter that funds had been directed to religious schools as long as the state was not directly funding the education. The tuition, the court said, was being funded by the parents who chose to pay it with their vouchers," according to CNN.

The majority of states have some sort of taxpayer-funded school choice programs. (The New York Times offered a roundup today). Earlier this month, CT noted when the Colorado Court of Appeals upheld a similar voucher program. In November, CT noted when the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled that schools could not sue parents of disabled children who used such vouchers for religious schools.

CT has reported on the school-choice movement's pivot from vouchers to tax credits. However, such programs have also been accused of misuse of scholarships for religious schools, as well as raised questions about discrimination against gay students at religious schools.

Related Topics:Education
Posted:March 28, 2013 at 10:21AM
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